Hawks proving to be a tough foe

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Woodland’s Christian Poirier (10) and Bunnell’s Juan Velasquez (11) battle for possession of the ball Sept. 26 in Beacon Falls. Woodland fell, 1-0. –KEN MORSE
Woodland’s Christian Poirier (10) and Bunnell’s Juan Velasquez (11) battle for possession of the ball Sept. 26 in Beacon Falls. Woodland fell, 1-0. –KEN MORSE

BEACON FALLS — Heading into the season Woodland boys head soccer coach Tony Moutinho and assistant coaches Izzy Oliveira and Nick Oliveira determined that this was going to be a rebuilding year. The Hawks graduated 14 seniors but the upside, according to Moutinho, was that it would create an opportunity for the younger players to compete at a higher level and bring out the best in them.

Three weeks into the season the rebuilding project is a little bit ahead of schedule.

Woodland racked up a 5-1 win over Sacred Heart Sept. 23 to record its second win of the season.

Christian Poirier led the way with two goals and an assist. Jack LaPerriere added one goal and two assists in the Hawks’ most productive offensive attack of the season. Anthony Barreira and Adem Rifati added goals with Tristan Baxter lending an assist.

“We were able to open up our offense a little bit against Sacred Heart,” Moutinho said. “Outside of the opening loss to Naugatuck 3-0 we have been in every game. We played Watertown and came up short in a 2-1 loss.

“Those are the top two teams in the league. We are in a tough division with Naugatuck, Watertown and Torrington. But even for a young team we are still very competitive and it all starts with our defense.”

Matt Hopkinson, Isaac Weinstein, Xavier Gibson and Ryan Swanson have created strong support out in front of goalie A.J. Oliveira. The Hawks have allowed just five goals in the last four games.

The Hawks ran into a tough Bunnell team from Stratford last Saturday at Woodland in a non-league contest and fell, 1-0.

Woodland’s Matt Hopkinson (22) and Ryan Swanson (21) defend against Bunnell’s Tyler Cartagena (13) Sept. 26 in Beacon Falls. Woodland fell, 1-0. –KEN MORSE
Woodland’s Matt Hopkinson (22) and Ryan Swanson (21) defend against Bunnell’s Tyler Cartagena (13) Sept. 26 in Beacon Falls. Woodland fell, 1-0. –KEN MORSE

“It was an evenly matched game and it could have gone either way,” Moutinho said. “But Bunnell is a tough team from the SWC and it was a good matchup for us. Defense is our strength and we just seem to missing that last final touch to finish things off.”

Woodland (2-3) had a few opportunities right off the bat but a couple of would be shots just missed the net.

“We had a couple of corner opportunities but just couldn’t set up a shot,” Moutinho said. “We are a young group and we are not clicking yet on offense, but I see a lot of potential. We are working on that in practice and it’s just a matter of time before it starts to click.”

Bunnell moved into Hawks territory at the 31 minute mark and Klajdi Memelli steered a pass just ahead of the defense and Javel Dawkins stepped into the seam. As Dawkins lined up the shot Oliveira charged out to defend. The ball took an unexpected high bounce up and over the top of the Hawks’ goalie for the lone score of the game.

“A.J. is one of the better keepers in the league,” Moutinho said. “He came out to defend and got an unlucky bounce. He almost always comes up with that but sometimes that’s the way the ball bounces in this game.”

Woodland’s game versus Torrington on Wednesday was postponed to Thursday. The Hawks will travel to Oxford on Friday.